The Middle School Tutor: How to Survive Geography Tests

Posted by Kyle Eichner on 1/21/15 4:23 PM

tumblr_lk9yn40ClK1qjp12go1_500You could also buy yourself a Hug-a-World, like the one Rory Gilmore had. 

You’re in middle school. You seem to have more homework every week (especially now that it’s “second semester” after winter break). Your teachers seem to delight in quizzes and tests. Maybe you’re used to math quizzes, but what is with all of these tests in Social Studies? How are you supposed to study when you’re just given some maps? Our crew of middle school homework tutors in New York City and Boston are dedicated to helping bewildered students navigate the academic flurry. Let’s get started:  

Why so many quizzes?

Your teachers are checking to make sure that you are paying attention, and that you understand the material. Your teachers not only want to teach you the subjects, they want to teach you how to study, and be better at studying so that you’ll go on to ace high school and college tests. 

Why geography? Who cares?

Geography is step #1 to understanding other places, people, and cultures both past and present. In Massachusetts, the whole year of 6th grade Social Studies is dedicated to learning about different parts of the world. As you learn about U.S. History or Ancient Civilizations in later years, your teachers will expect you to be able to read maps and know were the 13 colonies were, or where Ancient Mesopotamia would be on today’s maps.

How in the world do I study for these quizzes???

  1. Listen to your teacher’s suggestions. Maybe she says to go over notes from class. Maybe he suggests looking over the textbook. Whatever your teacher suggests, it’s for a reason. If you want to do well on the quiz, it’s not suggestion – it’s a requirement.
  2. Make sure you know exactly what you are being quizzed on. Just countries, or countries and capitals? Does spelling count? Do you have to know rivers and lakes?
  3. Make sure you have a correct master sheet to study from. Maybe you were sick one day, or you got distracted when the teacher spelled Kyrgyzstan for you. Make sure you are studying the correct material! Studying incorrectly guarantees you will answer questions incorrectly!
  4. Use resources on the internet. There are some amazingly helpful resources to study geography, all of which can be better than making flash cards (which may be what your parents tell you to do). Ask your middle school homework tutor in NYC for additional suggestions.

    • SheppardSoftware ( has many levels of geography games, which get progressively harder as you study the material. It’s a great way to really master location and spelling of countries in a given region. It helped me learn and teach all of the countries of Africa (there are 54 plus one territory). You can read the prompt or listen to it, if that is easier for you.
    • Sporcle ( also has many ways to quiz yourself. You can search for a quiz on the specific area you are studying. Why take a quiz for a quiz? Well, it’s surprisingly fun and addicting to do this with a computer and a time limit. Sporcle is better for later on in your studying, when you want to check what you know and what you still don’t know and need to work on. There are so many people making Sporcle quizzes that they can be much more creative and tricky. It’s not just “Name the Countries in Africa.” There’s also “Name the successive path through African countries from Lesotho without revisiting any country” (
    • Quizlet ( is good for any “set” of information you have to know (such as vocabulary tests). There are sets created by other users, or you can make your own. It’s hard to do with geographic locations, but good for matching countries and capitals, or if you are also being quizzed on things like latitude and longitude.

If you want more relevant tips for academic success, check out these blog posts written by our homework tutors and middle school tutors in NYC and Boston: A Comprehensive Time Management Guide for Middle Schoolers, How to Get the Most from Middle School, and Making the Most of Academic Tutoring.

Need more hands-on support? Feel free to reach out to us via our contact form! Cambridge Coaching offers middle school homework tutors for in-person tutoring in NYC and Boston, and online tutoring anywhere around the world. 

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Tags: middle school